India is in the eye of the storm for the unfortunate attacks on African nationals in New Delhi. This comes close on the heels of a Congoean man having been attacked to death, also in the capital. Not too long ago, the country was caught by a collective furore against the attack on a Tanzanian girl in Bangalore. Shameful incidents are like these are not helping set a good precedent for the image of the country as a foreigner friendly nation, especially for those coming in from Africa. Ironically for a country which has often been victimised of racism, these acts of violence are placing India as a racist nation.
However, while we must not let the perpetrators of such heinous acts against humans, irrespective of local or foreigner, go scot free, here’s accounts from African students studying in India, as shared by Foreigners of India. They share stories of their struggle, their pain, but also of their acceptance, and their love for the country.
1. Mushab Abul Karim, Sudan
The two major reasons I considered before coming to India to study pharmacy were the costing and the quality of education as compared to Sudan. The major medium of study in my country is Arabic. Therefore, English as a medium of study was a bigger advantage for me. As a foreigner, the major challenge I have faced is language barrier. In fact, I remember an incident when I made my classmates to think I was the son of Martin Luther King, and really, they believed me. Actually, through my experiences, I would encourage anyone to study in India on the sole condition that you have to adapt to their differences and culture. Generally, Indians are nice people but the mindset and ignorance of some is making the environment unbearable for us. I encourage them to be more tolerant towards foreigners and also try to accept our own culture as well. Though I haven’t had my share of love as I wanted, but I will describe the past three years in India as amazing.
2. Shams Mohammed, Somalia
Since my arrival to Hyderabad 6 months ago, I have shifted 3 times due to the distance from my college. Actually, one thing I noticed about Indians is their intense love for masala. Anything of theirs includes masala, including their drinks. My major challenge so far has been language barrier and dishonesty. For example, when I go to buy something, they try to take more than the normal price because I am a foreigner. I therefore encourage them to be honest in their dealings. Another headache I faced was with FRRO (Foreigner Regional Registration Offices) towards my admission but I managed to get through. I am finally settled in my college. One of my favorite moment was my visit to Ramoji Film City. So far I will say my experience has been good.
3.Mujtaba Khezri, Iran
I am Iranian by origin and Indian by birth. I was born in hyderabad but really do not know much about it. I do not think it is about foreigners coming to India alone, even among Indians there is still an issue of acceptance. Indians are people who find it difficult to even accept their own race who come from a different zone. For example, a north Indian not accepted in the south and all those complexities. For me, I think the best way to put out this negative misconception is to break the barrier and to be more welcoming. Accept people for who they are and not for anything else. Africans are kind and loving people and i will definitely love to visit Africa someday.
4. Mohammed Karim, Sudan
I have been in India for the past 5 years, and one major thing I would emphasize to anyone coming here is to be patient and very tolerant. The ignorant attitude of some people is in fact beyond question and you sometimes wonder if they know Africa as a continent. Funny to say, some of the Indians I meet regard South Africa as the whole part of Africa. Really, the struggle is real here…the tug of war to enter buses, the three-wheeler auto drivers spitting on the road while driving, noise from bikes and buses here and there can make you sick, but really, you have no option. I have travelled to other states and it is quite different, but I still love to be in Hyderabad. I made here my home. Any foreigner who is yet to try Biryani is missing out. I entreat you to try it if you have not. I have had my share of love and I will describe it so far as Perfect. We are all here individually and the differences we make back home is very important. Therefore, I will advise my African brothers and sisters studying here to remain focused and dedicated towards their studies. India has a lot to offer, no wonder it is incredible!
5. Thomas Mensa, Ghana
Life is a chance given to anyone, so, make the chance worth it. The word racism carries weight. From my perspective, I will not consider India as one. So, it was not hard for me to adapt and of course every country will like to protect its people and culture from being exploited by foreigners. Excluding the lifestyle, India is just like my country; the culture, the festivals and so on are the same. The headache as a foreigner is something you just cannot avoid. And I will tell you, coming to India as an exchange student was as a surprise to me. Judging from my experience so far, I think I have a lot to offer back home and my major vision is spreading out education, creating more awareness of using the right human resource in doing the right job, in that way there will be less focus on foreign aid. I will also encourage Africans to study politics, do more research and bring a different light of politics to our individual countries. For me, I will advise the government to make English a more acceptable language of studying among its citizens because language barrier is a major challenge we face. This goes to everyone, do not study to compete but study to gain. My experience so far is Incredible.
6. Mohammed Naseer, Afghanistan
I am so glad I made it to India. Coming here to study was a childhood dream which has come true. Before I came, speaking English was strange to me but now I understand, speak and write English. I can say boldly that coming here has been an eye opener for me. I am able to get some experience that will help me do more for my country, and surely, my interest in politics has been aroused. At home, I hope to be a parliamentarian to help spread education and build hope and vision in the poor. That is my dream come true.
7. Mohammed Abdul Samir, Sudan
Back in Sudan, it takes about 5 years to complete BSc computers whereas in india it is just 3 years, i then decided to come and study here. Indeed the flow of communication here has been tough, even at times i graduated to using sign languages to communicate. Although i have not had any bad experience but i have heard stories of discrimination in the aspect of Indians dealing with foreigners, therefore, my advise will be for indians to be more tolerable and nice to foreigners. For me, i definitely have a good future ahead of me as i intend working in the UAE or KSA. My goal beyond all is my family. My experience so far is GOOD.
8. Ray, Nigeria
Since 6 months ago i arrived in India, I have had no bad experience so far, but from what i have seen, I will call on Africans here to come together and unite. I believe that together we can break this barrier of racism. Coming here has been an eye opener to me as I have realized that Africa is not receiving back what it gives out. I mean, back in my country, lots of Indians are working and making a good living, but the reverse case is different here in India. I challenge the Indian government to make a goal by creating internships and job opportunities for foreigners here. From the pictures I have seen so far, I am not happy. But with God all things are possible.
9. Faisal Dermane, Ghana
My major problem has been with the media about how they convey twisted stories about Africans to the public. This has made things difficult for Africans especially in the case of accommodation. On this note, i will urge the media to send the right information and try not to hype news when it comes to Africans. Its a fact that every country has good and bad people which we cannot deny or compromise with. I will also urge the police to work according to the law in protecting the rights of foreigners. In my opinion, i believe education is the key to liberate people from poverty. To Indians i will encourage them to travel more especially to Africa to see other side of it. That is the best way to change their mindset and attitude. The journey I would say has been incredible so far.